This is the first part of a series. Refer to the Blog Index if you wish to read them in order.
Sometimes she’d look back on her life and miss the days when she could lay in bed reading, breaking the sound of silence and the occasional turned page by getting up to pee or grab a cup of tea or a bottle of beer. Sometimes she’d look back on her life and see days, months, years: wasted.
What if she’d started this whole “mommy” thing earlier? Would she be a better parent with all the vitality of youth or was she a better parent now with the patience of age? Would she have married “someone” to co-parent with or would she have been a single mom? Would she have had two boys or just one child? A girl maybe?
There wasn’t any point to these daydreams, these questions. They didn’t change anything. She didn’t regret her wasted youth and she certainly didn’t regret her current status of wife and mother of two. If anything, these things were still a happy surprise. But still the questions occasionally came.
“Jesus,” she thought to herself, “I can’t even think like an interesting person.”
She put the last dish on the drain board and rinsed her hands. Turning the water off, wiping her hands and throwing the towel under the sink among the pile of soiled rags kept in the bucket until laundry day. At least the kitchen would be tidy for a red hot minute before her husband came in looking for a snack. Although she hoped to have the kids in the car before then.
“I’m leaving in five minutes!” she hollered into the house, “anyone wanting a ride into town better be getting shoes on and seat belts buckled!”
She couldn’t help but smile as she heard the crashing and sliding of her boys as they juggled to get out of their rooms and down the stairs. She’d never actually left without them before but they knew from other events that it was better to assume she’d follow through than risk that she was bluffing.
She heard them calling “bye, Dad!” as they raced down the hall and their father call back “bye, boys! Be good!” as she slipped into the hall behind them and down to his office door. He sat in front of his computer, hands steepled over the keyboard, reading the monitor from was she was sure was an unsafe closeness.
“Hey,” she said softly, hoping not to startle him.
“Hey,” he said, his body slowly swiveling his chair in her direction as his eyes remained glued to the monitor until the last possible second.
“Love you, bye,” she said all in a breath, giving him a kiss on the lips. She started to pull back then changed her mind and said “more,” before kissing him again.
She couldn’t believe her good luck. Still in love with a man after ten years and two kids. And not only that, they still saw each other, appreciated one another, and consequently still had sex more than twice a week, unlike the other married couples they knew.
“Have a good day,” he said, meeting her eyes before smiling and turning back to the computer.
She hop-skipped down the hallway stopping briefly in the kitchen to grab her keys off the hook under the calendar and her water bottle off the counter. Whistling something that might have been Bach was probably Beethoven she put her shoes on in the garage, jumped into the car and called out “belts on?” as she started the car.
Hearing grunts that she translated aloud to “ye, mother, of course,” she backed out of the garage and also snuck a peek at each boy to be sure they did, in fact, have their belts on and that they looked presentable and had shoes on their feet.
Satisfied with her boys, her husband, and her life, she put the car in drive and began moving down the road.
“This is forty-five,” she thought, smiling.
And then everything was loud. So loud. How could things be so loud? Metal on metal, glass shattering, screaming. Was that her screaming? Or the boys? Would she even be able to hear them over the metal if they were screaming? The thought, “they’d better not have a scratch on them,” flit through her mind and then silence.
~~~That’s one hour~~~